Starting Confusion

Japanese, general discussion on the language
xhilononi234
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Starting Confusion

Post by xhilononi234 » Fri 07.20.2007 1:21 pm

Hi, I've just started to learn Japanese, but I've already come across some problems.
What are the personal pronouns (I, you, he, she, it, we, and they)?
I've found many anwsers for this but what are the differences?
Boku vs Watashi
Anata vs Kimi

I also think that I've heard "Bokutachi" somewhere, I thought it was "Bokura."

Also, would kimi become kimitachi or kimira?
Last edited by xhilononi234 on Fri 07.20.2007 1:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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two_heads_talking
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RE: Starting Confusion

Post by two_heads_talking » Fri 07.20.2007 1:37 pm

ok.. you have asked a few questions here.

watakushi, watashi, atashi, boku, ore are all words for I. each one can be used in different levels of speech.

otaku, anata, kimi, omae, are all words for you. again each one can be used in different levels of speech.

he = kare
she = kanojo
it can be are

for multiples, both tachi and ra are common endings with tachi being more polite.

watakushitachi would be more common that bokutachi or bokura.. etc. kimi or anata could be anatatachi or kimitachi etc.

those aren't problems per sey, but they are issues. I would suggest you find material that is willing to discuss polite, plain form and lower levels of speech, otherwise you will end up with egg on your face.

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Yudan Taiteki
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RE: Starting Confusion

Post by Yudan Taiteki » Fri 07.20.2007 2:12 pm

Also remember the most important thing about personal pronouns is to not use them unless you have to. One of the #1 mistakes beginners make is putting "watashi" in every sentence they write.

Neither "anata" nor "kimi" are particularly polite words for "you". Generally a person's name or title is what you use (i.e. "suzuki-san", "kacho", "miki")
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RE: Starting Confusion

Post by Dehitay » Fri 07.20.2007 6:48 pm

Since 2heads brought up otaku, I actually have a related question. I originally thought this was the 2nd person on a level equivalent to watakushi. However, when I talked to a Japanese person who know what watakushi was, they had never heard of otaku before (at least as a 2nd person pronoun).

About how often is otaku used as a 2nd person pronoun? Since using 2nd person pronouns is rare in and of itself and otaku is apparently sonkeigo, I can understand if a Japanese person has never heard it before. Also, in cases where it may be appropriate, it might still be neglected due to a possible misinterpretation. I'm curious if the word is still in use as of recent days
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Yudan Taiteki
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RE: Starting Confusion

Post by Yudan Taiteki » Fri 07.20.2007 7:25 pm

"otaku" is very polite, and especially used in business contexts when talking about someone's household or family. It's not something that anyone under 21 would have much cause to use or hear (although I'm a little surprised that a native Japanese, even a kid, would not have heard of the word at all -- unless they grew up outside of Japan, maybe.)

i.e. a conversation like this:
A: 久しぶりですね。
B: 本当に。お変わりありませんか。
A: ええ、おかげさまで。おたくの皆さんも?
B: ええ、ありがとうございます。
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Daiki
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RE: Levels of Speech

Post by Daiki » Fri 07.20.2007 9:03 pm

Basically, there are words you can use for "I" when you want to sound humble, thus exalting the person you're talking to, and there are words for you/he/she, etc. that simply exalt that person when referring to them. You'd only want to use one of these methods of exalting someone when that person is someone important like a teacher, doctor, or boss. Otherwise, you'd just use the plain form. (Keep in mind that there are also many mean ways to refer to someone using different forms of pronouns, and these are usually only used in manga/anime.)

Here are the ways to say "I" in order of most modest(and thus most formal) to least modest(and thus least formal): watakushi, watashi, atashi(if you're a woman), boku(if you're a man), and ore (less formal than atashi/boku, and only for men).

Here are the ways to say "you" in order of most modest(and thus most formal) to least modest(and thus least formal): anata, otaku, anta(usually only used by women), kimi, and omae(usually used by men). For the rest of the pronouns, go here: http://shrinkster.com/r2t


In Japanese, there are also special verb forms to exalt the person your talking to (usually a teacher, doctor, boss, etc. ) and this is known as the "Honorific Form". You use these when talking about something the important person did, and can think of this verb form as meaning "Gracefully did [such and such]" instead of just "Did [such and such]"

There are also ways to make yourself sound humble when referring to something you do/did, thus exalting someone else. This is known as the "Modest Form". For example, you say "itadakimasu" (I humbly receive this meal) before you eat because you're making yourself sound humble so that the person who allowed you to eat the meal is exalted.

So, in summary, the reason there are so many forms of pronouns is because they're just different levels of politeness.
Last edited by Daiki on Fri 07.20.2007 9:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

yulisina
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RE: Starting Confusion

Post by yulisina » Tue 07.31.2007 5:00 am

you everyone know both english and japanese!!! i want to know both too! but my english is not good, japanese is worth!!
tasukete kudasai!!! :( :(

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AJBryant
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RE: Starting Confusion

Post by AJBryant » Tue 07.31.2007 6:39 am

Yulisina --

Ya ne ochen khorosho govaryu po-russki, no vy khorosho govarite po-anglijski. Brava! (Ya dumayu chto, vy devushka. Da?) Menya zavut "Tosha."

Yoroshiku. :)

Poka!!

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two_heads_talking
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RE: Starting Confusion

Post by two_heads_talking » Tue 07.31.2007 10:14 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
"otaku" is very polite, and especially used in business contexts when talking about someone's household or family. It's not something that anyone under 21 would have much cause to use or hear (although I'm a little surprised that a native Japanese, even a kid, would not have heard of the word at all -- unless they grew up outside of Japan, maybe.)

i.e. a conversation like this:
A: 久しぶりですね。
B: 本当に。お変わりありませんか。
A: ええ、おかげさまで。おたくの皆さんも?
B: ええ、ありがとうございます。


sorry, I missed this response.. yes, Otaku is mainly a business context word. It can also be used when speaking to a head of household (the father of the home, so to speak) when making cold contacts etc. Basically, if you use it properly, the person you are speaking to will hold you in a bit more respect than if you use Anata, Kimi or otherwise (you) words. and Yudan mentioned it earlier.. Using the person's name is better than saying you..

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RE: Starting Confusion

Post by Seijiro Hiko » Tue 07.31.2007 10:21 am

yulisina wrote:
you everyone know both english and japanese!!! i want to know both too! but my english is not good, japanese is worth!!
tasukete kudasai!!! :( :(


I'm sorry, but did you mean, "...english is not good, japanese is worse."

Zenmasterkel
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RE: Starting Confusion

Post by Zenmasterkel » Tue 07.31.2007 12:07 pm

otaku is also a derrogatory term for "fan boy," or anime fan.

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AJBryant
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RE: Starting Confusion

Post by AJBryant » Tue 07.31.2007 7:35 pm

otaku is also a derrogatory term for "fan boy," or anime fan.


In slang usage, yes. It is actually a pronoun of sorts.


The origin of its fan usage:

"Otaku" is a rather distant, polite way to say "you" -- you usually hear it used by the elderly or by businesspeople to customers. Literally, it means "[your] honored house." Now, in the 1960s, "The Man from UNCLE" arrived on Japanese TV. The dialogue of the character of Ilya Kuriyakin, who was a bit colder and more distant than the gregarious Napoleon Solo, was translated using "otaku" for all his references to "you." It's sense of polite distance was fitting with the personality.

This usage "caught on" in popular sentiment, and people who were somewhat detached from others started using "otaku" as their second-person pronoun. They became called "otaku-zoku" (the "otaku people").

In the late 80s, an SF and manga essayist 9and major otaku in his own right) applied the term "otaku" to people obsessed with cartoons to the point that they were divorced from actual social contacts. The term caught on, and it stuck. The first major media exposure of the term occurred during the Miyazaki murder investigation, as Miyazaki was described by the media as an otaku of the first water, and from *that* instance, the usage of "otaku" to describe an obsessed fanboy really took off in popular culture.

Tony
Last edited by AJBryant on Tue 07.31.2007 7:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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tanuki
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RE: Starting Confusion

Post by tanuki » Tue 07.31.2007 11:26 pm

Interesting story. :)
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RE: Starting Confusion

Post by skrhgh3b » Tue 07.31.2007 11:31 pm

i was flipping through a book called "dirty japanese" (i think) at the bookstore, and it listed おいら as an "i," but i always thought it was a "we," as in おれら --> おいら. but i probably just assumed that. any answers?
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RE: Starting Confusion

Post by Shirasagi » Wed 08.01.2007 1:22 am

skrhgh3b wrote:
i was flipping through a book called "dirty japanese" (i think) at the bookstore, and it listed おいら as an "i," but i always thought it was a "we," as in おれら --> おいら. but i probably just assumed that. any answers?


You're on track about where it came from. It's just language shift. Now it's often used as an alternate to おれ, most likely because of it's resemblance to おら.
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